Obama To Award Medal Of Freedom To Polish Resistance Hero

President Barack Obama announced Monday that he will award a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a former officer in the Polish Underground during World War II.

Karski, who was among the first to provide eye-witness accounts of the Holocaust to the world, later immigrated to the U.S. and became a celebrated professor at Georgetown University. He died in 2000 at the age of 86.

Speaking at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, Obama said, "We must tell our children about how this evil was allowed to happen—because so many people succumbed to their darkest instincts; because so many others stood silent. But let us also tell our children about the Righteous Among the Nations."

"Among them was Jan Karski—a young Polish Catholic—who witnessed Jews being put on cattle cars, who saw the killings, and who told the truth, all the way to President Roosevelt himself," he added.

Obama said he would honor Karski with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor, in a ceremony later this spring.

Last week, the president said he would award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former University of Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt.

The White House said the remainder of the Medal of Freedom recipients would be announced over the coming weeks.

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